Oh 2019, the lessons you’ve taught me have been plentiful. One painful and confusing hurdle after another, leaving me to question everything I’ve ever truly known about myself. Who am I? What am I doing? What is my sole purpose in this beautiful and messy thing we call life? As I sit here reflecting on the last 365 days, I’m honestly mind blown by the amount of change and personal growth I’ve fought for in order to catch a glimpse of the woman I knew had been hiding inside me all along. This transformation has been pure magic my loves, but it didn’t initially feel that way at all…
In fact, the woman I was back in January doesn’t even exist anymore! Perhaps I lost her somewhere between my impulsive lesbian uhaul or my attempt to drive a limo smack into the middle of my house? It’s possible she drowned herself in the bathtub during one of her many raging blackouts or got kidnapped in Hawaii upon deciding to hop into a strangers car after one too many glasses of Soho. Wherever she is, I’d like to thank her for teaching me one very valuable life lesson, and that’s that I deserve better.
Reflecting on The Last Year
As we approach the end of December, I can’t help but play the last year on repeat like a broken record in my mind. How is it even possible that I’ve experienced this crazy whirlwind in such a short period of time? Better yet, how the hell did I muster up the strength to push through it? Resilience. The key to surviving any obstacle or tragedy life throws at you, is your ability to keep on fighting. I was stuck in a never ending cycle of suffering and victimhood for so long that the thought of my life being anything other than pure torture felt nearly impossible! But the chaos existed in order for me to find myself, to unleash my potential and create a life I love.
Acknowledging our weaknesses and using them as a driving force to create change means we HAVE to get real with ourselves! I’m talking fully exposed, in every nook and cranny of our souls. No more hiding, no more denying ourselves of our talent or our worth. No more playing it safe or accepting circumstances as fate. The struggle allowed me to identify pieces of myself that were no longer serving me, no longer bringing me joy. And in doing so, I’ve not only become increasingly self aware, but discovered that self awareness means nothing in the absence of action.
Without taking the time to celebrate our wins, we can become easily discouraged from chasing after our next big goal. Stop downplaying your accomplishments and start honouring all of the sweat and tears you’ve put into making your dreams a reality! So what exactly did I get up to this year? What were some of the milestones that allowed me to shift my thought patterns and embark on a magical journey towards self discovery and healing? Where do I even begin…
I Came Out
It still doesn’t feel real to me looking back on my coming out story and the events that followed such a major life altering declaration. Accepting myself exactly as I am didn’t come over night. I spent months learning the true definition of #selflove and coming to terms with the fact that I had been suppressing my sexuality for years. I couldn’t handle another minute hiding behind a fake smile, in a heterosexual relationship, dreaming of all of the women I secretly lusted after in silence. So I did what any closeted lesbian would do and I set that baby dyke free!
“Mental Health & Coming Out”
I Got Sober
Perhaps the most significant lifestyle change of 2019 was putting down that glorious bottle of Bombay and laying my drunk alter ego to rest #byekarren. I have zero regrets. My mental health comes first, always. Recognizing that I had to make this change was an ongoing battle that I fought for over a decade! I told myself on numerous occasions that I could drink responsibly and enjoy myself without putting everyone’s safety at risk, but this just wasn’t the truth. Remaining in denial about my substance abuse issues wasn’t serving me anymore and it was about time I faced reality and took control of my life.
“Sobriety and Bipolar”
I Cut Ties with Toxic People
Ain’t nobody got time for toxic relationships that drain you of your precious energy and leave you feeling empty and depleted. Trust your intuition and key in on the behaviours of the people you surround yourself with. Actions speak louder than words! Whether it’s a friendship or intimate relationship, you want to make sure you’re engaging with those who support your growth, treat you with respect, and value the overall foundation you’ve built together. There are too many amazing people out there who want to see you succeed and find happiness! Stop wasting time with those who don’t encourage growth or support you in becoming the best possible version of yourself. These aren’t your people and I promise you you’re better off without them #thankyounext
“Toxic Relationships: Knowing When to Pull The Plug”
I Went Back to Therapy
Therapy use to be so taboo. But it’s 2019 and I feel like everyone and their dog is seeing a therapist. Talk therapy is an extremely constructive way to communicate the struggles of everyday life with a licensed professional who is not emotionally entangled in your inner world. Sometimes a girl just needs to pour out her heart to a total stranger without fear of being judged for the beautiful train wreck that she really is! EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a psychotherapy designed to help people heal from trauma and PTSD. I’ve spent countless hours working through my traumas and gained the confidence I was lacking in order to conquer my demons.
I Moved into My Own Place
If you were to ask me this time last year if I could ever envision myself living on my own in Vancouver, I would have assumed you had completely lost your mind for even asking such an absurd question. As if! This city is expensive AF and at the time I was making $16 an hour, working two jobs and could barely afford to feed myself (I wish I was joking, the struggle was real). I was burnt out, running on fumes, and eventually had a colitis flare up so bad that I was admitted to the hospital twice in the period of one week. Something needed to change! It was at this point that I manifested my current job which has provided me with the financial means to support myself without having to depend on anyone else. My sanctuary keeps me sane #flyingsolo
“5 Tips to Creating a Safe Space”
I Cut My Debt In Half
Do you want to know what’s worse than the lingering stress and ongoing anxiety that results from being in debt? Absolutely nothing. Owing money to anyone for whatever reason is daunting and robbed me of any and all sanity I might have had left over the last two years. I was tired of spinning my wheels and feeling no further ahead, exhausted from working like a dog and never having anything to show for it. I decided to bite the bullet and sit down with a financial advisor to review my options. I ended up filing a consumer proposal which cut my debt in half and allows me to pay back the remaining amount interest free. If you’re looking to tackle your debt in the new year, this might be a great starting point for you too!
I Conquered My Colitis
Since being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in the spring of 2018, I’ve been battling painful flare ups and unpleasant side effects for well over a year. It wasn’t until my gastroenterologist started me on a new intravenous medication in September that my symptoms finally started to subside! Not only can I function and tend to day to day responsibilities without experiencing excruciating amounts of pain, but I’ve also been able to tweak my diet and start incorporating foods that would otherwise make me violently ill. The fact that I am not constantly reminded of my disease and having to worry about unexpected flare ups has been a true blessing. I am finally in remission and I never thought I would hear myself say that!
I Reconnected with My Dad
I’m not sure the initial shock from this decision will ever truly fade. I spent my entire life full of resentment and upset and I swore that I would NEVER engage with my father for as long as I was still alive on this earth. Suddenly (as if out of nowhere) it became very apparent that this hatred boiling inside of me was toxic and I needed to let that s*!t go ASAP! So I made that phone call, I planned that trip, and I learned how to practice the art of forgiveness. And you know what? I would do it again in a heartbeat because life is way too short to waste energy on holding grudges.
“Building a Relationship With My Father at 26”
I Launched My Blog
Shortly after my car accident in the summer of 2018 I lost my job. I had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning! I felt like my body had betrayed me and I couldn’t understand why these things were happening to me. I felt completely defeated and alone. My mental health was at an all time low and I just didn’t see the point in carrying on anymore.
It was this chain of events that inspired me to start my blog in the first place and share my story with the rest of the world. Why? Because eventually I recognized that I was not the only person experiencing hardship and I wanted to create a space where others could feel safe to share their stories and relate with one another on a more intimate level. My anxiety postponed my launch for 5 months. I was terrified to expose myself and all of my messy pieces. What if it was all for nothing and no one was interested in what I had to say? My dear friend then raised a point that I will never forget, “you won’t know until you try”. It was at this very moment that I threw caution to the wind and decided to face my fears head on. The result? Pure magic, genuine connection, raw, vulnerable communication with so many beautiful souls. My heart has never been so full!
Looking back on how far you’ve come and everything you’ve accomplished in the last year sparks inspiration and emphasizes your innate strength! You might not even realize the strides you’ve made without taking the time to celebrate your achievements and reflect on the lessons learned along the way. You slay queen! You are powerful, you are strong, and you are capable of manifesting your dreams. Don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise.
Setting your intentions a year in advance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Personally I love it! Challenge is exciting and pushes us past our comfort zone and into a realm of endless possibility. I’m ready to approach this year with a soft heart and an open mind. So what intentions have I set for myself in 2020?
When we allow others to cross our boundaries, we are teaching them that their behaviour is acceptable and we will tolerate being mistreated. The reality is, we are doing ourselves a disservice. By enforcing healthy boundaries we set the stage for those around us and provide clarity in terms of what we deem acceptable and respectful forms of communication. Self-worth is the catalyst to creating healthy boundaries! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m no longer interested in raging arguments that diminish my self esteem and leave me feeling battered and scarred. This is the year I draw the line out of respect for my own damn self!
Facing My Fears
My anxiety has been steering the course of my life for far too long and it’s about time she takes the backseat. I’ve grown tired of living every day in fear! Fearful that I’m incapable of making new connections, of chasing after my dreams, and finding a healthy loving relationship that allows me to flourish and embrace my individuality. F*$k that. The only person that’s been standing in my way, filling my head with self limiting beliefs is me. I’m not going to become any less anxious in social environments by hanging out at home alone with my dogs. Does it make me uncomfortable? Yes. Will it be easy? No. But nothing worth having ever comes easily and I’m willing to step outside of my fearful, anxious self if it means attracting positivity and abundance into my life.
Back to Class
Honestly, this has got to be the most exciting yet nerve wracking goal I’ve set for myself this year. Getting my a$$ back in the studio and starting from ground zero! I fell in love with the art of dance at a very young age and spent ALL of my time training, competing, and performing. Somewhere along the way I stumbled into my career as a gogo dancer and discovered a newfound love for freestyle. After eight years of dancing to the beat of my own drum, I hit up a local studio to take an entry level Hip Hop class…and literally left bawling my eyes out! Think Bambi on ice in a room FULL of strangers. I was mortified and haven’t been back since. Then one day, it hit me. The only reason I’m not as strong of a dancer as I once was, is because I haven’t been practicing (you don’t say?).
My fear of failure became my reality because I was too afraid to even try. Oh hell no! I LOVE to dance. I feel most at home in my body when I’m moving to the beat of my favourite song and it’s one of the only times when my brain shuts off entirely and I can truly express myself without the use of words. So no, I don’t care if I look stupid or it takes me 20 different tries until I get it right. I’m committed to taking one class every week for the next year until I can finally stare myself dead in the eyes and say “I knew you could do it”. #nottodayanxiety
Building a Community
Mental health is my passion! It is the reason I share my personal experiences with the rest of the world and advocate a healthy lifestyle as a means of treatment for those struggling with their diagnosis. I’m still learning new coping skills everyday and sometimes it can feel like I’m running myself in circles. But recovery IS possible and it doesn’t have to be disguised as a small blue pill. My goal this year is to continue working on myself and exploring various coping mechanisms through trauma therapy, physical exercise, diet, rest, and creative outlets. The more genuine conversations we can have surrounding mental health, the faster we can put an end to the stigma and progress as a community!
Attracting My Tribe
Being an introvert certainly has its perks. I look forward to my evenings alone and the calming energy that washes over me after a long day of nonstop human interaction. It never gets old. But how does a tried and true introvert meet like minded people who equally enjoy their alone time and opt to stay in rather than go out and socialize? Well for starters you have to commit to leaving your house and branching out into unfamiliar territory. You have to make the effort to connect with people you share things in common with and be open to fostering new relationships. You have to put yourself out there! There’s truly no better time than the present to start manifesting your tribe and opening yourself up to the possibility of new friendships. 2020 is all about making new connections and as I’m sure you might have guessed, I am HERE for it.
Manifesting your dreams doesn’t have to be restrictive. That’s the beauty of personal growth and goal setting! You know yourself better than anyone else, which means only you can address your weaknesses and shift your internal energy to attract love and abundance. Often times this means letting go of parts of yourself that no longer serve you and creating space for magic and possibility to flourish.
Try asking yourself,
- Does this bring me joy?
- Does this make me excited?
- Does this harbour growth?
- Does this align with my values?
If the answer is no, you’re already halfway there. You just have to decide whether or not you want something more than you are afraid of it.
Beautiful Train Wreck